After you come into contact with public lice, it can take several weeks before you notice any symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • itching and irritation in the pubic or any other hairy area
  • black powdery droppings from lice in your underwear
  • blue-coloured spots on your skin where lice are living, such as on your thighs or lower abdomen (these are caused by lice bites)
  • small spots of blood on your skin that are also caused by lice bites.

Getting tested

If you think you have pubic lice, go to your GP or your nearest sexual health clinic. In most cases the doctor or nurse will be able to tell if you have pubic lice just by looking. They may use a magnifying glass to look for signs of the lice, such as the eggs or the lice themselves.


Treatment is simple and involves applying a special lotion or shampoo to the hairy areas on your body, excluding your head, eyebrows and eyelashes. It usually needs to be repeated after three to seven days. If the lice are resistant to the treatment you have used your doctor or nurse may recommend a different treatment.

You should wash your clothing, bedding and towels on a very hot wash to kill the lice.


To prevent re-infestation, anyone that you are in close contact with should also be treated at the same time as you. This includes your sexual partners and members of your household, even if they do not have symptoms.

You should avoid sexual or close body contact until you have completed your treatment.